Defying Mayawati's attempts to scuttle her plans, Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday visited her Lok Sabha constituency calling it her "karma bhoomi" and declaring that she is ready to go to jail for the sake of development.
"Rae Bareli and Amethi were the 'karma bhoomi' of Feroze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. It is also the 'karma bhoomi' of mine and Rahul. Rae Bareli and Amethi are like my home. I want to ask, can anyone prevent me from coming to my home? No one can," she said in a brief interaction with reporters near the railway station in Lalganj, about 20 km away.
She also had barbs at Chief Minister Mayawati saying like the Rail Coach Factory in her constituency for which land allotment has been cancelled by the state government, there were at least eight such schemes on which the clearance has come the Centre, but "all the hurdles are here only in Uttar Pradesh."
Asked if she was prepared to go to jail, Sonia shot back, "I am also ready to go to jail."
Unfazed by the administration's apparent attempts to foil her plans for holding a rally today by imposing prohibitory orders, Sonia flew straight to Fursatganj in a private aircraft skipping Lucknow.
Sonia, who was cheered by slogan-shouting Congress workers who also garlanded her at some places, said she had planned to come to Rae Bareli for the happy occasion of laying of the foundation stone for the Rail Coach Factory.
"You know the matter is now before the court and I will not make any comments," she said when asked about the cancellation of the land allotment by the Mayawati government.
On Saturday the district administration had cancelled the land alloted to the proposed coach factory citing the demand from local farmers. But, on a petition from the railway ministry on Monday, the Allahabad high court virtually stayed the order pronouncing status quo on the issue.
Asked how her party planned to face Mayawati's onslaught, she pointed to Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and some other leaders and said "these people will take care".
Referring to the "hurdles" in the way of the Rail Coach Factory and the other schemes, Sonia told journalists, "You may make your own calculations."
While on her way to Lalganj, Sonia's cavalcade was diverted from Sataon and Gurbuxganj, which are located in the area earmarked for the coach factory.
When asked about the route change, she spoke of Rae Bareli and Amethi being the 'karma bhoomi' of the Gandhis.
Earlier, Sonia visited the Baiswara Degree College where a special ward has been created to enquire about the condition of patients who have been treated by doctors of the 'Lifeline Express' train. She also inspected the train.
On the way to Lalganj, Sonia was stopped at several places like ITI crossing, Sataon, Gurubuxganj and Sajora where a number of people greeted her.
Earlier from the morning, the town was virtually turned into a fortress with heavy deployment of police force in view of her visit.
Sonia cancelled her plans to address a rally in Lalganj town after the district administration decided to clamp prohibitory orders in the district.
The police have registered cases, including under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, against two Congress MLAs -- Ashok Singh and Shiv Ganesh Lodhi -- and 34 others. Of them, eight people have been arrested.